Simultaneous 2D and 3D Viewing - Cool!

At the recent Integrated Systems Europe 2011 exhibition, Toshiba debuted a new LED wall technology. The prototype display was designed for use in either indoor or outdoor, stadium like venues. The unique aspect of the new display is that it presents an image that can be simultaneously viewed in either conventional 2D or passive, glasses-based 3D.

In a telephone interview with Charley Bocklet, Toshiba’s National Sales Manager for LED Display Systems, I was told that the technology underlying the new display is a result of a development program undertaken in conjunction with Chroma3D Systems Inc. (Cannon Falls, MN). To learn more, I spoke with Monte Ramstad of Chroma3D Systems, the inventor of the 3D technology.

In the new display, each pixel is composed of Red, Green, Blue and Yellow subpixels. A conventional 2D image is presented utilizing the RGB pixels. The depth information is presented utilizing the Y pixels.

When the display is viewed naturally, without special glasses, the 2D image appears almost completely normal. A slight, not overly distracting, yellow halo may be visible associated with portions of some objects.

When the user wears passive glasses, the image is perceived in stereoscopic 3D. One lens in the glasses transmits restricted portions of the red, green and blue spectrum and the other lens transmits only yellow.

In a display based on the new technology, the resolution of the 2D and 3D images is the same and the brightness of the images are similar.

At the ISE show, it was reported that, when viewed from a distance of greater than about 20-feet, the display looked perfectly fine in 2D. (The distance is a reflection of the LED resolution rather than the 3D technology.) In fact, Ramstad mentioned that at ISE, most people did not notice that there was anything different or special about the 2D image until they were told so. When the viewer put on the passive glasses, the 3D was described as having "a decent pop to it."

This is not a new concept for Ramstad either. A number of years ago he was promoting a similar solution that used a projection system and an RGB and yellow 3D encoding scheme. That did not take off, but this implementation in an LED wall has more potential, we think.

The new Toshiba LED wall is not the first display technology with a claim to providing simultaneous 2D and 3D viewing. Such is the capability reported by ColorCode 3-D (Lyngby, Denmark). There are, however, significant differences between the Toshiba and ColorCode 3-D technologies.

The ColorCode 3-D technology is based on a display having conventional RGB subpixels. The viewer wears passive glasses in which one lens transmits blue and the other amber.

Ramstad stated that the Chroma3D Systems approach produces an image with a wider color gamut and a "more comfortable 3D viewing" experience.

Toshiba has not yet revealed plans for deployment of display systems utilizing the new technology.

By Arthur Berman, Display Daily